Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / The 18th hole at The Course at McLemore is seen from a helicopter on Lookout Mountain Friday, June 21, 2019 in Walker County, Ga. The 18th hole sits on a perched terrace overlooking the valley below.

McLemore expects record-breaking 2021

McLemore, a Scenic Land Co. community located atop Lookout Mountain, expects a record-breaking year in 2021.

Scenic Land President Duane Horton said 2020 was a year for foundational growth with the opening of the golf course, short course, clubhouse and The Creag, a restaurant that is open to the public as well as to residents.

Also, every home placed on the market was sold last year and those under construction are under contract, he said, with new homes coming onto the market in the spring. Arthur Rutenberg Homes are scheduled for completion before the end of the year, with the average price of such a residence at McLemore about $750,000, Horton said.

"The McLemore community attracts someone from every generation," said Horton. "We truly have something for anyone seeking an outdoor experience, fine dining, and the beautiful foothills of the Appalachian Mountains."


Ford-made masks make smiles visible

Ford Motor Co. has designed and created clear N95 face masks so that hearing-impaired people can read lips while protecting themselves from COVID-19, the company announced Tuesday.

A patent is pending for the new design, which is awaiting federal approval to qualify for N95 status from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The low-cost, reusable respirators may supplement or replace the use of cloth masks that block facial expression and lips from view as mask wearers seek protection from the increased threat of new coronavirus variants. In addition to the hearing impaired, these masks could be used by people who depend on facial expressions to better do their jobs, like teachers.

Face masks many people wear today are often not tight. Respirators are airtight on the face and protect both the wearer and the people nearby. This new design by Ford filters exhalation, protecting the people around the face mask user.

"One of the things that's missing during the pandemic is the power of a smile," said Jim Baumbick, Ford vice president, Enterprise Product Line Management and leader of the company's PPE (personal protection equipment) manufacturing effort.


Older renters rise 27% in Chattanooga

The fastest growing source of new apartment renters are those age 55 and up, according to a new study by Construction Coverage.

Since 2010, the percentage of 55-and-older rental households in Chattanooga has increased by 27.2%. In the 6-county Chattanooga metro area, 29% of all renter households are now occupied by renters age 55 year old and older.

Nationwide, 30.1% of all renters in the country today are age 55 or older, according to Construction Coverage.

"For many, the view of a typical renter is a young person, living on leases while they leave home for the first time, seek out jobs and potential partners, and accumulate the savings needed to buy a house and settle down," said Brandon Medina of Construction Coverage magazine. "In contrast, the Boomers—a more established generation, and one whose members have benefited from tremendous economic prosperity over the course of their lifetime—are far more likely to own a home. And yet, over the last two decades, the data shows that many older Americans are forgoing home ownership in favor of shorter-term living arrangements in the rental market."


Toyota replaces Volkswagen as No 1 auto maker

Toyota overtook Volkswagen in vehicle sales last year to regain Toyota's spot as the world's top selling automaker for the first time in five years.

Japan's Toyota said global sales fell 11.3% to 9.528 million vehicles in 2020. That compared with a 15.2 percent drop at Germany's Volkswagen to 9.305 million vehicles.

Toyota weathered the pandemic better than VW, in part, because its home market in Asia was less affected by the outbreak than Europe and the United States.


Amazon union vote set for February 8

Amazon workers at an Alabama warehouse will vote next week on whether to unionize in one of the most visible labor-organizing pushes at the online retailing giant.

Employees at the Bessemer facility are seeking to form a union to represent the full and part-time workers at the center. The employees are seeking to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

Mail-in balloting begins Feb. 8, under a decision posted last month by the National Labor Relations Board.

"We face outrageous work quotas that have left many with illnesses and lifetime injuries," the site reads. The site takes the familiar swoosh on the Amazon logo and turns it upside down to look like a frown.

Amazon has said that since the warehouse opened in March, it has created thousands of full-time jobs in Bessemer, with average pay of $15.30 an hour, including full healthcare, vision and dental insurance.


Georgia may lose AAA bond rating

The state auditor says Georgia's coveted AAA bond rating — which saves millions of dollars a year in borrowing costs — could be in jeopardy because he hasn't received complete financial data from the Department of Labor.

State senators raised the issue Monday with Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, who told them Auditor Greg Griffin's office made an end-of-the-year request for information on several hundred thousand unemployment cases.

"It physically couldn't be done in that time," Butler said.

On the surface, such a fight over information in the state's end-of-the-year comprehensive audit sounds like a geeky bureaucratic spat. But lawmakers fear it could ding the state's AAA bond rating, the best grade financial service firms award to a government.

The rating allows the state to borrow at low interest rates. Considering the state borrows about $1 billion for construction projects involving Georgia schools, universities and roadways, higher interest rates — the cost of borrowing — could prove expensive.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner